China dolls : a study of architectural terra cotta in America

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Lyons, George J.
Wolner, Edward W.
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Thesis (M.S.H.P.)
Department of Architecture
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There is a general lack of documentation which has been done on terra cotta production. Trends over the last several decades have shown that this industry is declining to the point where it could disappear completely. This project documents, through written descriptions and graphic illustrations, the process of terra cotta production in order to leave a record of what has been and what could be. Should the industry have a substantial resurgence to the extent that it is no longer in danger of extinction, or should general interest in the material develop further, this project will serve the purpose of an educational resource for the architect, preservationist, production industry and general public.It briefly covers the material and how it is formed, and how the way it is formed affects its limitations and durability. The project includes a history of the material from its most likely earliest applications to its current use. The history includes some of the major technological advances which have affected the material's production. A step-by-step guide to the production method involved in current terra cotta manufacture is included along with explanation of various related materials or processes which may not be commonly understood. Also included in this study is a look at the detection and correction of failures within terra cotta which is then outlined in a quick-reference tool for the preservation of terra cotta. The conclusion of the paper covers the outlook for the industry and the material along with ways for advancing both the knowledge of and desired use for terra cotta in new construction.